Cowbells and the Crimson Tide; Guarding our Hearts from the Sports God
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:3-4
In the fall of 2010, Sarah and I attended the Alabama vs. Mississippi State football game. We enjoyed the cheers of the crowd, the ballpark food, the marching bands, and the overall competitive nature of the game. We enjoyed sitting on hard metal bleacher seats huddled together as a continual autumn breeze blew across our faces. We enjoyed the collegiate traditions, such as the ringing of the Mississippi State cowbells and all the hounds-tooth patterns checkered throughout the crimson crowd. To top off the experience, our team won! Roll Tide!
Yet with all that said, there were also some things we observed that were quite disturbing. For instance, some of the tailgate parties I saw in the parking lot are etched upon my memory. Nothing is wrong with tailgating in itself, but some of the things were just a little over the top. In one case, I saw a truck with a trailer hitched on the back. This trailer had been handcrafted for the sole purpose of tailgating. Built into the side of the trailer was an accordion style lift door. On the other side of the door was a massive, built-in, plasma screen T.V. The other side of this trailer had compartments for food and drink. Someone had put a lot of thought into designing such a custom made trailer.
Also, just before the game started, we went to a convenience store located on the college campus, just about three-hundred yards or so from the stadium. As we were checking out at the register, I noticed foam drink holders for sale that read “Go to H____ Auburn.” I could not believe it; the brazenness of such a product! It was very disturbing to me to know that someone would have the audacity to damn a group of people to Hell, and then repulsively print it on a cup holder.
As we got to our seats just before game time, I noticed a certain fan sitting nearby. As the game progressed it became increasing apparent that this fan lived and breathed football. Throughout the game, he was an emotional roller-coaster. One moment, he might be excited and joyous, while the next moment he might be frustrated or furious. Throughout portions of the game (depending on what was happening out on the field) he would express occasional expletives. During the timeouts, he would use his phone to feverishly look up the scores of other ballgames. As he did so, you could faintly hear him muttering under his breath about his approval or disapproval in the outcome of certain scores. And you talk about a guy with tunnel vision! There were times that he seemed so hypnotized by the game, that I believe a freight train could passed right by him and he would not have even noticed. This man’s purpose in life was college football.
When does a hobby or an interest like sports become a “god?” It does not have to be a sport. It could be anything. But anything in your life that is more important to you than your relationship with God has become a “god.” If this is the case, you need to repent and dethrone whatever that thing might be, and honor God by giving God His rightful position of authority in your heart. One other thought; why do Christians not get excited and obsessed about Jesus as they do sports? It is probably because many Christians have bought into the lie that their faith in God should be expressed in moderation. There seems to be a fear that someone might be labeled a Jesus freak. But I saw a lot of freaks of a different sort at the football game, and they were certainly not concerned what others around them thought. With this comparison in mind, why are so many Christians afraid to boldly and radically express zeal for God? Let us ponder these things with an unwavering allegiance to Christ and a passion for His glory to be revealed throughout the world!
– Pastor Eric